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UMF gets trustees' approval to negotiate for natural gas
Natural gas is one step closer to coming to the University of Maine at Farmington after the state board of trustees gave unanimous approval to begin contract negotiations on an agreement. UMF officials will have to negotiate a final agreement that then must be approved by the University of Maine System's vice chancellor for finance and administration and the system's legal counsel.
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URGENT Legislative Alert: PUC seeking to include propane in Dig Safe law
Less than two years ago, The Dig Safe Work Group recommended a
bill, after months of work, that among other things, specifically
exempted propane from the requirements to belong to Dig Safe. Jurisdictional facilities however were included in Dig Safe. Now
less than two years later, the PUC is trying to undo the work of
that group by limiting the exemption to only single family
residences and businesses with less than five employees.
Reinstatement of surcharge fees into the ground water oil clean-up fund
In accordance with the requirements of Chapter 4 of the rules of the Fund Insurance Review Board regarding the imposition of per barrel surcharge fees, the collection of these fees is being reinstated effective Feb. 1. The monthly fees will now be those specified in 38 M.R.S.A., Section 569-A(5)(E) (Enclosure A).
Frozen Northeast getting gouged by natural gas prices
As temperatures plunge anew into single digits across much of the U.S. Northeast, natural gas prices have been going in the opposite direction. On Jan. 22, thermostats in New York City bottomed out at 7 degrees, a day after the price to deliver natural gas into the city spiked to a record $120 per million British Thermal Units in the spot market on the outskirts of town. That's about 30 times more expensive than what the equivalent amount of gas cost a hundred miles away in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, the biggest natural gas field in the U.S. and home to some of the lowest gas prices in the world. And you thought this was the age of cheap energy.
Maine bill aims to boost solar power development
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network
The heat of the sun may seem far away on a bitterly cold day. But it was the focus of debate in the Legislature's Energy and Utilities Committee. A new bill aims to make solar power more affordable and accessible for Mainers. But opponents question the push for solar over other energy resources.
South Portland tar sands committee chosen as activists warn of hazards
The ad hoc committee that will draft an ordinance banning the development of diluted bitumen "tar sands" oil processing or export facilities is expected to be at work by Feb. 6. City councilors selected city residents Michael Conathan and David Critchfield, along with Portland attorney Russell Pierce Jr. from 12 committee applicants.
Can natural gas weather the cold?
If natural gas is going to save America, boost our economy, roll back carbon emissions and bring back our Golden Age of energy, we probably should determine if it can stand the cold. The last few weeks seemed to stump natural gas supplies with its cold snap.
Better use for money loaned to gas companies
Why do we spend so much time touting the benefits of natural gas investment? The two gas companies expanding service to the Kennebec Valley are investing hundreds of millions of dollars for a strip of users along a narrow, single expansion area in the Kennebec Valley. That investment, of course, does not belong to the natural gas companies. The money comes from banks loaning money. In other words, that money exists in banks to be loaned, and the choice was made to loan it out to natural gas companies.
New England governors ask for infrastructure to deliver more electricity, more natural gas
New England's governors are seeking to develop transmission infrastructure that can deliver clean energy into the region's electric system and expand pipeline capacity that will bring more natural gas to New England. All six governors have asked ISO-New England in a letter to implement their recent regional agreement to expand energy infrastructure in the Northeast.
Converting Augusta Civic Center to natural gas not easy or cheap
Converting the Augusta Civic Center to heat with natural gas isn't going to be quite as easy, nor nearly as cheap, as officials had thought. A Summit Natural Gas of Maine gas line has already been run to the city-owned auditorium and convention center, and officials had planned to have the arena's boilers converted and burning natural gas by now.
Suspected oil thieves nabbed in Topsham
The Times Record
Following footprints from a vehicle parked along Route 196 led Topsham police to two men they allege had been trying to steal heating oil from an outdoor tank. Topsham Police Chief Christopher Lewis said a suspicious vehicle was reported to police in the area of McConnell Motors. Officer Bruce Swanson responded and followed fresh tracks in the snow to a nearby residence, where he said an outdoor oil tank had been tampered with.
2 years later, reason to celebrate trucks' move to Maine interstates where they belong
Bangor Daily News
It's been two years since Maine's federal interstates, such as I-95, were opened up to all commercial truck traffic. I'm here to tell you that it has produced every single benefit that Sen. Susan Collins promised, and then some. Has safety improved on Maine's roads? Yes. Has Maine's regional competitiveness improved? Absolutely. Has it improved the efficiency of commerce in Maine and allowed our company to grow as the Maine economy grows? You bet.
Unitil requests unusual midwinter rate hike for Mainers
Portland Press Herald
The extreme cold and high demand that have been pushing up energy prices across the country are about to hit customers of Maine's largest natural gas company: Unitil Corp. is asking state regulators for an unusual winter rate hike.
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Portland tar sands protesters chain themselves to TD Bank doors
Portland Press Herald
Two protesters who locked themselves to the front doors of the TD Bank branch recently, blocking the main entrance to the bank, were arrested about two hours later when police removed the door handles. Authorities identified the protesters as Elizabeth "Betsy" Catlin of Brunswick and Seth Schlotterbeck — aka Sylvia Stormwalker — of Auburn, who said they are members of a group called "Maine Trans and/or Women's Action Team." They said they were protesting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and said TD Bank was an investor in the pipeline, which carries tar sands oil to refineries in Port Arthur and Houston, Texas.
Is Google becoming an energy company?
Google's $3.2 billion acquisition of smart home startup Nest was the search-engine giant's most visible foray into the energy space, but it was far from the first. Google has invested more than $1 billion in renewable power plants over years and appears poised to be a major player in the energy sector for years to come.
Natural gas is part — not all — of solution to Maine's energy train wreck
Bangor Daily News (blog)
Philip Conkling, a blogger for Bangor Daily News, writes: "Oh, to be in the fuel oil or propane business these days, I think to myself every time I hear the boiler in the basement ignite with a shudder or listen to the whoosh of the blue enamel propane heater in our drafty kitchen. Of course, I realize it is no fun delivering fossil fuels to half-frozen residents or trying to collect from hard-pressed customers unable to make it through to spring. But you can fantasize about someone benefiting from the dispiriting cold weather that seems to have us in its death grip."
New England energy agreement promising, with implications for Maine's energy future
Bangor Daily News
It started with conversations, then a statement of cooperation. We're pleased to see the governors of the six New England states have taken their pledge to jointly tackle regional energy issues one step further.
Convenience stores continue impressive growth
The U.S. convenience store count increased to 151,282 stores as of Dec. 31, a 1.4 percent increase (2,062 stores) from the year prior, according to the 2014 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count. The link between fuels and convenience retailing continues to grow. Overall, 83.7 percent of convenience stores (126,658 total) sell motor fuels, a 2.7 percent increase (3,369 stores) over 2013. The growth of convenience stores selling motor fuels is double the overall growth in the industry, as fuel retailers add convenience operations and convenience retailers add fueling operations.
US Senators push for menu-labeling fix
U.S. Sen. Angus King is on a mission: to help restaurants and other foodservice businesses comply with the menu-labeling rules under the Affordable Care Act. To do so, he supports legislation that seeks to simplify the regulations, the Portland Press Herald reports. The menu-labeling regulations mandate that chains with 20 or more locations, including convenience stores and supermarkets, must provide nutrition data for standard menu items. Many QSRs and other chains are happy that the proposed regulations would bring order to the current mix of local and state rules.
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